CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Chesterfield County’s $19 million Lucks Lane widening project is finally finished, nearly two years after its original completion date.
The project has been a headache for drivers since construction began in November of 2017. The contractor, Fielder’s Choice Enterprises, agreed to finish the work by August of 2019.
County leaders have largely blamed the contractor for the massive delays. They said Fielder’s Choice wasn’t doing a good job, had to repeat work, and also couldn’t stay adequately staffed.
Chesterfield County issued a $1000 penalty for each day past the original competition date. Now, county supervisors are putting that money to use and calling a new project the “silver lining” to Lucks lane.
On Thursday, several cars honked at 8News while driving by on the fresh pavement, presumably signaling relief that the three and a half year long road widening project is finished.
“It’s been a long, long [time]. It seems like five years,” said Carmen Speight, who lives off of Lucks lane.
“I think I’ll throw a party. I think I’ll go to a party, how’s that?” said Gary Kaiser, who also lives nearby. “Only thing I can say is I’m glad it’s over because it has been nothing but a headache for a lot of people.”
The new design is supposed to alleviate traffic on the busy road and reduce the amount of accidents.
Ariana Speight got into a fender bender on Lucks Lane a few years ago. Now, she hopes her wreck can be one of the last on the road.
“It was a small accident but it was scary,” she said.
Additions to Lucks Lane include widening 1.3 miles of two lanes into four, bike paths, sidewalks, and a multi-use path.
Though the project was way behind, “there’s a silver lining, if you will,” said Chris Winslow, the county supervisor overseeing the district.
“We have collected over $600,000 in fines for the lateness of the project’s delivery,” he said.
Winslow said that money will help expand the sidewalk all the way to Evergreen Elementary school. The whole project will take about $1.7 million, he said, but the dollars accrued in penalties will get the sidewalk started.
“We now have money to really… begin on this sidewalk extension,” he said. “We have a lot of people that live in neighborhoods around Evergreen and they’d love to be able to walk to school. So I’d love to make that happen for them.”
Winslow also said when the crews finish cleaning up on Lucks lane, the staging area where workers parked for nearly four years will become a park with benches, and perhaps a trail.
Winslow praised community members for their patience over the last three and a half years.
“I can’t thank citizens in this area enough,” he said.
8News asked if the county will avoid working with Fielder’s Choice Enterprises in the future.
“All of that is subject to procurement rules. Our county’s procurement department will be looking at this contractor, I think a little more critically, when it comes to future bidding processes, and I know VDOT is doing the same thing,” he said.
In February of 2021, VDOT confirmed they disqualified Fielder’s Choice from bidding on any more projects for three months, or 90 days, starting in March of 2019.
The supervisor added that he would be surprised if the contractor bid on any Chesterfield County projects any time soon.